removing old orange shellac

Roger Young

display sample collector
I have recently come into possession of an old display model from the 1920's. At some point in its history, the painted finish was covered in what looks like orange shellac. Problem is, a very poor job was done, and left incomplete at that. Parts of the painted surface were not covered; other areas have lots of hardened drips so it looks very unsightly. Anyone got any tips on removing the old shellac without attacking the paint? I have been told to try rubbing alcohol. Not sure whether the original paint was re-painted; could be. But I thought I'd like to try to go down one layer at a time, saving the paint if I can. If I fail, I can always sand and scrape, then re-paint again, but if I can save an original surface, I'd like to try that route first.
 

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Alcohol will remove shellac, but shouldn't affect paint. That is what I would try...

On a completely unrelated note - Q: what is the difference between a violin and a fiddle? A: you can spill beer on a fiddle...!
 
Thanks Dan; I'll start working on it tomorrow. Almost took a trip to Clayton late last week, but had to cut it short. Hope your antique boat show went well.
 
Dan Miller said:
On a completely unrelated note - Q: what is the difference between a violin and a fiddle? A: you can spill beer on a fiddle...!

Never heard "Big John McNeil" played on a violin, only a fiddle....is that another difference?
 
Roger,
I have used denatured alcohol [I think rubbing alcohol is too dilute or perhaps the wrong kind of alcohol] to remove the shellac from furniture many times.
A few suggestions: Have plenty of ventilation, no open flame nearby and wear rubber gloves because the alcohol is absorbed through the skin and can affect your joints. You can use cloth to remove the shellac by keeping it damp and wiping. I'm sure you know to try it on some small spot to see what it does to the paint.
Denis
 
Violin/viola

But, the difference between a violin and a viola is that "a viola burns longer". -Victor Borge.
 
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